Readers who have followed this column throughout the years have heard, on numerous occasions, of my association with the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College. I am proud of this relationship, and for the past 12 years (just about the same time I began writing for Wednesday Journal), I have had the privilege of teaching the basics to newcomers to the culinary world, responsible in no small part for providing them with inspiration and, more importantly, helping them lay a firm foundation of skills that we hope will propel them to the rewarding positions they will later be seeking.
You may not realize it, but you, too, can gauge some measure of my success as a teacher when you dine in the award-winning Dining Room at Kendall College.
The dining room is a real winner, folks, and with today’s prices, a bargain to boot. It’s really a living classroom where advanced students from both the culinary and hospitality programs at Kendall gain real-world experience in a fine-dining, cutting-edge restaurant. But don’t let the word “classroom” lower your expectations. Under the tutelage of my esteemed colleagues, chef Peggy Ryan (former owner of Va Pensiero in Evanston) and chef Benjamin Browning (formerly of the Landmark Grill & Lounge), the Dining Room at Kendall College is a recommended restaurant in the 2011 Michelin Guide and carries a high rating from readers of the Zagat Survey.
Vigorously committed to sustainability, the dining room is the first restaurant within a culinary school to be recognized by the Green Restaurant Association. Chefs Ryan and Browning both source local food, some of which comes from our own sustainable garden where students grow and harvest produce for use in the restaurant.
Gueridon service, where food is presented, cooked, or finished in a trolley in front of the guest, is a popular feature in the dining room. Under the watchful eye of Maitre D’ Steven Grand Pre, traditional items such as Caesar salad are prepared tableside, and at dinner a cheese cart featuring artisan cheeses from the Midwest is offered. Not so traditional, but a lot fun to watch, is the mozzarella cheese, made tableside by pouring simmering salted water is over cheese curds, shaped with two spoons and placed on top of arugula and fresh tomatoes.
I’m happiest to tell you about the unique tea cart offered at lunch. Here, too, frequent readers of this column know how highly I regard Todd & Holland Tea Merchants, located right in our own backyard, in Forest Park. The excellence of their loose leaf teas is unsurpassed, and, depending on the season, eight of their matchless teas, including a first flush Darjeeling Wonder Tea from India, Rooibos (or bush) tea from Africa, and a rare Silver Needles White Tea with Jasmine are offered.
Menus include a first course, main course and dessert, and come at a fixed price of $18 for lunch, Monday through Friday, and $29 for dinner, Tuesday through Thursday. Dinner on Friday and Saturday is a la carte.
Call 312-752-2328 for dates of operation and reservations.